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Scholar to Place Sarah Palin into Historical Perspective

March 29, 2011

"Thinking about Sarah Palin through the Lens of Western Women's History" will be the topic of the first Katherine Jensen Memorial Lecture Thursday, March 31, from 4-5 p.m. in Room 302 of the University of Wyoming Classroom Building. 

Melanie Gustafson, associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Vermont and one of Jensen's former students, will present the lecture. She received a B.S. degree in sociology at UW in 1980.

Gustafson's scholarly work has focused on women and political parties in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She is the author of "Women and the Republican Party, 1854-1924" and co-edited an anthology, "We Have Come to Stay: American Women and Political Parties, 1880-1960," published by the University of New Mexico Press. She is now a series editor of UNM Press's new American Women's Biography series.

Jensen, who died in October, was a distinguished professor emerita in gender and women's studies, as well as one of the co-founders and former directors.

Before earning her Ph.D. in 1977 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Jensen taught high school and lived and worked on the Navajo (Dine) reservation in Arizona. She joined the UW Department of Sociology and, in 1978, with the support of Dean Joan Wadlow, she and her colleague and friend, Janice Harris, co-founded the UW Women's Studies Program, making it one of the nation's oldest such programs.

While Jensen was a strong role model for many as a scholar and teacher, she also made numerous administrative contributions to the university.  She was associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences from 1988-1991 and also worked with the International Studies Program, serving on the International Studies Committee, including a term as director.

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